Rep. Michael Grimm (R – NY) may have been forgiven by NY1 reporter Michael Scotto for threatening to throw Scotto over a Capitol balcony, but Grimm’s 2010 supporters in the Staten Island Tea Party gave up on the Congressman long before he told Scotto he’d “break” him “in half. Like a boy.”
Activists in his home district are fed up with their Congressman’s antics and moderate record — their attitude is now “benign neglect,” a source within the Staten Island Tea Party told Breitbart News.
“It was a really unfortunate incident. It doesn’t cast Staten Island in a good light, but now he’s got to move forward without tea party support. He burned his tea party support shortly after he was elected,” the source added. “In 2012 he won against really a no-name opponent 52-48. Now he’s got to go into what’s going to be a tougher election without a chunk of his conservative base.”
The Staten Island Tea Party enthusiastically supported Grimm in 2010 from his primary race against Michael Alegretti to the general against one-term incumbent Rep. Michael McMahon (D – NY). Former Congressman Vito Fosella (R – NY) previously held the seat since 1997 until he decided not to run for re-election in 2008, when a drunken driving incident revealed he had a secret family from an extra-marital affair.
Grimm’s primary against Alegretti gave observers a glimpse of Grimm’s temper during a debate on NY1, which was moderated by Scotto. Alegretti questioned why Grimm, who served in the Marine Corp., was passing out campaign photos of himself wearing military ribbons he did not earn. Nearly quoting Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Jessep from the film “A Few Good Men,” Grim responded that Alegretti “sleep[s] under a blanket of freedom that I helped provide… you should just say thank you.”
Although Alegretti had the support of Staten Island’s Republican Party organization, Grimm garnered favor with former borough president Guy Molinari and grassroots conservatives within tea party organizations, which helped give Grimm a 2 to 1 victory over his opponent. Grimm rode the 2010 tea party wave into Congress by defeating McMahon with just 51 percent of the vote.
Tea Party enthusiasm for Grimm, however, became short-lived after the former FBI agent’s performance in Congress proved to be less than conservative, and stories about Grimm’s temper and threatening demeanor began to be whispered about in New York GOP circles.
Like many others, this reporter has experienced Grimm’s anger first hand. During the fiscal cliff debate in December 2012, Breitbart News asked several GOP members if they would be supporting House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s “Plan B” proposal. Grimm angrily lashed out at Breitbart News in the Speaker’s Lobby, refusing to answer the question.
“We worked very hard to get him elected. He was pretty much a blank slate and it was during the Tea Party wave in 2010 and he said all the right things and made us believe he was a Tea Party candidate, but almost since the time he went into office, his voting record has been much more moderate than what the Tea Party would like to see,” said the Staten Island Tea Party source.
Grimm’s tea party troubles surfaced in February of 2013, when another Tea Party group, the Richmond County Tea Party Patriots, slammed him for supporting an Assault Weapons Ban in the wake of the Sandy Hook School massacre. This particular tea party organization also criticized Grimm, according to the Staten Island Advance, for his support of raising the debt ceiling and his early endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Grimm’s 2014 race is targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and his opponent, New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia is already lambasting Grimm over the Capitol Hill blow up. Although Staten Island is considered to be the most Republican of all the boroughs in New York City, the political demographics have changed substantially over the years, making the district up for grabs for either party. According to the source, the Staten Island Tea Party’s attitude toward Grimm is now that of “benign neglect.” However, the tea party organization does not plan to work to hand the seat over to a Democrat either.
“If things were to get to an untenable situation with Michael Grimm, I think there are enough good conservative Republicans on Staten Island to step right in and hold on to that seat,” the source said.